Inequalistan: Chris Hayes debunks "top 10% pay 70% of all income taxes" baloney

Discuss

140 Responses to “Inequalistan: Chris Hayes debunks "top 10% pay 70% of all income taxes" baloney”

  1. Bart Miller says:

    I’m still waiting for the part where he “debunks” it.  Because all he did was talk about inequality in total wealth which is a different discussion.

    • DiabloD3 says:

      Look at the graph. Sure, the fictional John Galt pays 50% of the taxes… but he makes 90% of the money. In the real US, the top 10% make _more_ than 90% of the money, yet only pay 70% of the taxes?

      Most of Republican lies are debunked this way, they use the very easy method of having their lies contain a kernel of verifiable truth that takes the truth of context. Republicans aren’t evil, they’re evil AND incompetent.

    • lewis_stoole says:

      i agree, but do you want her to reword it?
      “debunks the implied b.s. behind ‘the top 10% pay 70% of all income tax’ baloney”
      is it fixed?

    • Guest says:

      Well how about those people I know that you know the ones I mean
      Not so good, not so bad
      Only know what they have
      And they have only what they’ve seen
      Them mediocre bad guys can really bring you down
      They can’t be defeated, and you know
      They’re never going to come around

    • Sean Su says:

      It makes it clear that if you’re super rich, and there is so much income inequality that you make over 70% of the income in the country, then of course you’re going to be paying 70% of the taxes. The fact that people didn’t get this or understand demonstrates how terrible education in math is in America.

      Case in point, 1% taxes of Bill Gates’ 56 billion in one year is more money than you’ll make in a lifetime because that’s 560 million. So of COURSE he’s paying more taxes than you’ll ever do, even though he would be paying a tiny percentage of what you’ll ever pay.

      If the Republicans were saying “The top 10% pay more of a percentage of their income than the poorer 90%” THEN there would be reason for outrage. However the reality is they actually pay less of a percentage and that by saying so it demonstrates income inquality, not class warfare.

  2. backyardfoundry says:

    His body language is spastic and cutesy. Who is he patterning himself after?

    You say “Chris debunks that by presenting the tax system of a hypothetical country of ten people: “Inequalistan.”” 

    But he didn’t debunk the claim; he admitted that it was true. He thinks that people whose work is not highly valued should have their work be more highly valued. Because he’s a self-claimed egalitarian this will undoubtedly involve state mandates and therefore coercion. And undoubtedly he wants himself or his friends and allies to be in charge of the guns.

    • Navin_Johnson says:

      The pay of America’s business elite hardly equals value a lot of the time.  If it did, financial failures wouldn’t get fat bonuses, the men whose negligence caused Deepwater Horizon’s deaths and the pollution of our ecosystem wouldn’t get ‘safety bonuses’.  Serfs that show their fealty to this corrupt, piggish, tiny percentage of the elite are looking more and more foolish.

      Value: toxic assets, fraudulent financial debt instruments…..death, destruction.

      Bring on the “coercion” and the pitchforks.

      • backyardfoundry says:

        “The pay of America’s business elite hardly equals value a lot of the time.”  I agree. But this does not mean that I want to grow the power and size of the state (which has all the guns) in order to force people to be paid the same. Many in the elite do produce value. Many non-elites produce no value at work and still receive a paycheck. And our most expensive citizens are our poorest.  

        “If it did, financial failures wouldn’t get fat bonuses”
        I can’t stop the Bush/Obama regime from bailing out failed ventures and forcing financial institutions to take unnecessary risks. They have all of the guns and they don’t listen to me.

        “the men whose negligence caused Deepwater Horizon’s deaths and the pollution of our ecosystem wouldn’t get ‘safety bonuses’.”  
        Do we know that it was negligence? Or that their overall yearly record was bad? I’m not saying that you’re wrong…

        “Serfs that show their fealty to this corrupt, piggish, tiny percentage of the elite are looking more and more foolish.”
        I agree. Anyone who thinks it makes sense to put more power in the hands of government and the cronies closely aligned (Solyndra, Chrysler unions, banksters) is foolish.  This includes all of the liberals who want to grow the size of this inherently unaccountable central government of this giant empire.

        • Duncan McPherson says:

          “Many in the elite do produce value. Many non-elites produce no value at work and still receive a paycheck. And our most expensive citizens are our poorest.”
          Citation, please.

          The middle class aren’t grouped in with the elites. By definition, they can’t be. So, you are claiming that many of the middle class produce no value at work.

          That’s a pretty broad claim. 

          Do a quick definition on the Google for “many.” The first two definitions that pop up are “a large number of” and “the majority of the people.” 

          Maybe you didn’t think you were claiming that a large number — if not the majority — of the middle class produced no value, but you were. Let that sink in.

          The middle class includes many of those who do the actual work of keeping the society going. Earnings through the middle class spectrum tend to vary, in my experience, with one’s ability to produce value. In other words, there is more return for efforts based on the merit of those efforts within that spectrum than can be found among the poor or the rich.

        • lorq says:

          “‘The pay of America’s business elite hardly equals value a lot of the time.’  I agree. But this does not mean that I want to grow the power and size of the state (which has all the guns) in order to force people to be paid the same.”
          Who said anything about growing government?  You just pass a damn law, changing the tax rate.  

          And your whole image of the government coercing equality at the point of a gun is perverse.  What are cops doing when they pursue a criminal after a hold-up, if not protecting private property?  Conversely, what is “private property” itself, if not a contractual arrangement between an individual and the state?  (Unless you want private property to exist without rule of law.)

        • Please quit lumping Obama in with Bush, you are using a propaganda technique to equate one with another.  

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          “Solyndra” “Chrysler”.  You can save the embarrassing partisanship.  I’m not a Democrat or a Republican.  Government is a good thing, when neoliberal business elites are given free reign to corrupt it becomes just that:  corrupt.  We live in a plutocracy, and it’s anti-government, neoliberal folks like yourself that have allowed, and demanded that the elite have the free reign to subvert democracy and corrupt government.

    • ZikZak says:

      He thinks that people whose work is not highly valued should have their work be more highly valued.
      This is a fascinating aspect of free market fundamentalist theory: they think people should make more money when their work is more valuable – reasonable, right?  But they also think we can tell how valuable someone’s work is by looking at how much they get paid.

      So we end up with this circular social darwinist reasoning which essentially says “I have more money because I deserve to have more money, and you have less money because you deserve to have less money”.

      • backyardfoundry says:

        “This is a fascinating aspect of free market fundamentalist theory: they think people should make more money when their work is more valuable – reasonable, right?  But they also think we can tell how valuable someone’s work is by looking at how much they get paid.”
        It’s really hard to tell what something is worth. That’s one reason why central planning fails so terribly when compared to even somewhat free markets: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_calculation_problem

        We know that valuing something based on what it cost to produce is insane. We know that people want to do whatever they like to do and get paid a lot to do it regardless of what other people think of their product.  So how do we decide what to pay people? “We” don’t. I don’t pay Steve Jobs; other people do. They seem to value his ideas and drive enough that they’re willing to fork over (collectively) billions for them. It’s not the right or duty of you or any gun-toting progressive… I mean government official to decide that you know better what money he should be allowed to keep. 

      • And the elites use layers of control to maintain this, to become a doctor or lawyer you must spend upwards of 100k+ to get those high paying degrees. and really all it proves is that you are good  at taking stardardized tests.

        The government will give you about 25k to go to school and generating the other 75k+ insures the lack of social mobility of the lower classes.
          

    • atimoshenko says:

      He thinks that people whose work is not highly valued should have their work be more highly valued. Because he’s a self-claimed egalitarian this will undoubtedly involve state mandates and therefore coercion.

      Yeah, coercion of the kind that the state uses to coerce me not to get a bunch of my friends together and steal all your stuff. The state exists to enforce rules that protect what society understands as ‘fair’, and, as in my example, there are significant questions of fairness when it comes to the methods by which capital is allocated. Moreover, the amount of value one’s work can generate is roughly equal to talent x effort x capital. If a tiny number of individuals hoard all of the capital, of course they would seemingly be producing all of the value.

      • backyardfoundry says:

        “Yeah, coercion of the kind that the state uses to coerce me not to get a bunch of my friends together and steal all your stuff.”Progressives always talk as if they are dangerous. Based on your comment, you are a threat to no one. The government doesn’t protect producers from socialists; it protects poor non-producers from violent takers (sometimes.) Producers will generally make enough to separate themselves into safe enclaves (unless a society is completely screwed.) At the top of any society will be government officials (who pay themselves directly through stuff taken from producers) and cronies. Every society has high income variation (adjusted for demographics.) The better that markets are allowed to work in a society, the more stuff will be available in that society. The more invasive the government, the more life sucks.”If a tiny number of individuals hoard all of the capital, of course they would seemingly be producing all of the value.”The way that people tend to own capital is through buying stock which is aggregated into funds. Most Americans own some to a lot of shares of these funds. This is an idea that many Progressives hate for some reason.

        • atimoshenko says:

          The government doesn’t protect producers from socialists; it protects poor non-producers from violent takers (sometimes.)

          That’s just silly. The poor have nothing to take.

          Every society has high income variation (adjusted for demographics.) The better that markets are allowed to work in a society, the more stuff will be available in that society.

          And the greater the income variation, the more unregulated markets will be distorted by those at the top. It’s quite obvious that the rules for a game should not be set by the players. As it stands, the right to set the rules is the prize for winning. No wonder then that winners are so tough to dislodge – one must sink to a profound level of incompetence before one can lose at a game whose rules one is writing.

          At the top of any society will be government officials (who pay themselves directly through stuff taken from producers)

          I.e. politicians are on the payroll…

          The way that people tend to own capital is through buying stock which is aggregated into funds. Most Americans own some to a lot of shares of these funds.

          Actually, most Americans own little to none of these funds. This is why the top 5% own 72% of the assets. As a result, most Americans are intentionally prevented from producing as much value as they are capable of producing and willing to produce. This means that the whole economy suffers – growth and innovation are slower than they could be. And all for the sake of a tiny group of people writing rules to protect their own relative standing. Think of it this way – if a billionaire could increase his wealth by 5% without impacting the wealth of anyone else, or if he could increase his wealth by 10% while raising everyone else to his level, the human response would clearly prefer the former option.

        • jere7my says:

           Producers will generally make enough to separate themselves into safe enclaves

          Exactly! And that is why Marie Antoinette died a great-grandmother at age 105.

        • at the top of our social ladder are the bank and insurance cronies who do naught but pay themselves for doing NOTHING.

        • geolith says:

          <>

          Growing up in the USA over the last century, there’s a tendency to ignore available lessons from history.  On the consequences of acute disharmonics in social systems, see Robespierre or Lenin.

          If a social system destroys the sense of being at the center of a social continuum, it destroys the “we” (as in “We, the People…”).

          Then, it’s “us” and “them.”  

          After that point, the story tends to end poorly…

    • Guest says:

      an ad hominem attack on the man does not equal anything.

      Also, he dubunks the applicability of the argument to reality, not the argument itself.

      But hey, it’s all semantics to you once you can’t engage with the meat of the argument. Sure, attack the man.

    • 666beast1 says:

      If America continues with it’s huge differences in income distribution soon the GOP will be able to point to a 95% rate of income tax paid by the wealthiest 10%. This will be seen by you as unfair  since you seem to have no understanding of the gaming of the system involved. Endless corporate money and laws written by corporations for their own benefit
      have resulted in a near breakdown of the system.  The ” not highly valued “are part of an assymetrical balance of power and it is part of the reasoning behind destroying unions and pension funds.  Say hi to your buddies, the Koch brothers, for me.

  3. toasterslie says:

    Bart, the point is if somebody earns 70% of the income they SHOULD pay 70% of the taxes.  It would have helped if Hayes actually pulled out the IRS gross receipts statistics which show what percentage of GDP the top 10% take home.  Would have been even better if he crunched the numbers to add in all the regressive forms of taxation and then compared the total taxes paid to total GDP of take-home pay.

    • LordBlagger says:

      But that’s not what the left want. They want those that earn 70% of the income to pay 90% of the taxes. 

      They want redistribution. 

      • Are you reading our minds now?  Why make such blatantly false statements,  I have not seen redistribution mentioned once. 

        Your post is nothing more than a gross oversimplification, a logical fallacy

    • shooter242 says:

      Actually, the top 10% only make 42% of the income.
      But they pay 82% of the income tax, 55% of both income and FICA tax. (SS)
      http://www.cbo.gov/publications/collections/tax/2010/AverageFedTaxRates2007.pdf

      Meanwhile Hayes example doesn’t demonstrate that nearly half the country pays zero income tax.
      As for the rest of it, FICA is just like an insurance payment. Surely you don’t think SS and Medicare are free? State and local taxes get paid by everyone, so they don’t count.
      Of course, as I said, surely you don’t think half the country should become dependents?

  4. Bart Miller says:

    What has been “debunked” is the notion that the rich don’t pay their fair share.  In fact, millionaires pay 29.1% of their income in federal taxes.  Source: Associated Press - http://apne.ws/rscIxe

  5. SamSam says:

    Yeah, this suffers from more than a little over-the-top-headline hype. “Chris Hayes debunks “top 10% pay 70% of all income taxes” baloney?” He does not, I’m afraid.

    I watched this really hoping he would debunk it, because I agree with everything he says politically, but he neither debunks it not does he claim to. He simply describes why it’s fair.

    If you mislead people like this in the headline, don’t be surprised when they get annoyed. Or maybe you just didn’t watch more than a minute of it? (Because in the first minute or so, it did look like he was planning on debunking it.)

  6. grimc says:

    Debunk, deshmunk. The “baloney” that Hayes debunks is the conservative presentation of this 10/70 factoid as unfair to rich people, when it’s actually proof of unfairness to the other 90%. That’s what people should be taking about, not Xeni’s word choice.

    • lorq says:

      Indeed, the headline says he debunks conservatives’ “baloney” — which he does.  The conservatives are using the statistic to *imply* that that the rich pay more than their fair share, when in fact what they pay is simply a percentage of what they happen to have: i.e., a lot more than everyone else.  He’s debunking what is plainly and demonstrably being insinuated by the claim.

  7. CLamb says:

    10% tax is not a flat tax.  It is a proportional tax.

    • grimc says:

      A flat tax is a proportional tax. What’s your point?

      • CLamb says:

        No, a flat tax is when everyone pays the same amount regardless of income.  For example if everyone paid $500 that would be flat tax.  A proportional tax is when the amount changes according to the size on the person’s income.  For example if a tax would be 10%  only people earning $5000 would oay $500 in tax.

        • atimoshenko says:

          “Flat tax” is short for “flat rate tax”, not “flat amount tax”. Confusing or not, this is the standard, accepted usage of the term.

      • Guest says:

        “Sounding Smart” in the face of evidence to the contrary, would be my guess. 

    • Adam Rice says:

      In a literal sense, you are right, but whenever people talk about “flat tax,” they mean a uniform rate, not a fixed amount. It’s already established in conventional usage.

      • CLamb says:

        It is my aim to debunk that.  Whenever politicians use words in other than their literal sense you can be sure they are obfusticating something or are ignorant.  The fact that it has become common usage shows how little thought these people put into what they say.

    • aydiosmio says:

      “A flat tax (short for flat rate tax) is a tax system with a constant tax rate.”

  8. Chevan says:

    So, wait, his debunking of the claim is presenting a toy model that pretty well represents both the current situation and the claim? That’s not debunking, that’s verification.

    I get the point he’s trying to make – that the situation is inherently unequal and that the fact that they pay more is a consequence of basic math – but that doesn’t address at all the reason people are dragging that fact out in the first place.

    The conflict is a difference of paradigms – they see the inequality of the distribution, but that’s not what’s important. What’s more important is that everyone gets to keep what they earn. That’s why they drag out that quote – they see it as unfair that they disproportionately don’t get to keep what they earn compared to the rest of the country. The fact that the reason it’s unequal is basic math doesn’t disprove their argument at all; it lends it strength.

    He starts to approach a good argument at the end there – that pundits are defending inequality by masking inequality as equality – but he spent so much time on the toy model that he doesn’t get to spend nearly as much time to explore and defend the idea as it needs.

    • Guest says:

      So, wait, his debunking of the claim is presenting a toy model that
      pretty well represents both the current situation and the claim? That’s
      not debunking, that’s verification

      Actually, it’s debunking. The argument is valid, the context the argument was set in has been debunked.

      Same effect, except you’re hung up on the semantics, which only tells me that this is a good argument, effective at making your head spn, and also verifiably correct.

      Your facts, they do not mean what you have been told they mean.

  9. autark says:

    If you watch the next clip after the break, there is at least a debunking (by Robert Frank) of the idea that raising marginal income tax rates is a disincentive to work (unless the marginal rates go up to 100%).

  10. Phoc Yu says:

    My google powers are failing me, but what percentage of the US’ income is made by the top 10%?  

    Based on other numbers, it looks like it’s larger than 70%, which would mean that they’re not paying their fair share.  But that number would confirm or reject this argument once and for all, wouldn’t it?

    • Adam Rice says:

      Not sure what share the top 10% has of annual income, but in terms of total wealth, they have about 66% (per the second chart here). So if we had a flat tax right now, and if wealth tracks with income (which it might not), the wealthy would be paying about the same percentage of total taxes. 

      What can get left out of these discussions is that the wealthy get a higher percentage of their income (or any percentage at all) from capital gains, and those are taxed at a lower rate than income tax. Which is why Warren Buffet says he pays taxes at a lower rate than his cleaning lady.

      • Phoc Yu says:

        Thanks for that, although I’d love to see some newer data, just based on their caveat about house values.    That looks like at the time, the total wealth owned for the top 10% was over 73%.   

        Of course, wealth doesn’t always track to income, which is what makes it so difficult to get a simple answer that would end this argument one way or another.

        • Adam Rice says:

          I did a little more digging and found this graph-heavy, long article. If you jump down to Figure 7, you’ll see that as the author figures it, the top 20% (not 10%) gets 59% of all income and pays 64% of all taxes, but I’m not sure what he’s counting as “income” and I believe he is counting all forms of tax (local, state, sales, property, income, etc) in “taxes.”

  11. LordBlagger says:

    The obvious question. Quite a few people here are advocating higher taxes. 

    Can I ask how many of them sent a donation to the tax man last year? Voluntarily. 

    • ZikZak says:

      Can I ask how many of them sent a donation to the tax man last year? Voluntarily.

      I don’t think any of us have, because we’re not the ones with all the money.  We don’t want to pay more taxes, we want the insanely rich 1% to pay more taxes.

      And yes, I understand that’s “coercion” and “violence” and it offends your imaginary utopian libertarian ideals.  But for real, I have people on my block who don’t get enough to eat every day. So you should be glad we’re just asking the government to take away rich people’s money.  Because if that doesn’t work, poor folks are coming for it themselves.  And then you’ll understand the true meaning of “violence”.

    • semiotix says:

      The obvious question. Quite a few people here are advocating higher taxes. 

      Can I ask how many of them sent a donation to the tax man last year? Voluntarily.

      Roughly as many people voluntarily attempted to infiltrate Iran with the guns they had lying around the house (or North Korea, Somalia, U.S.S.R., etc.) when “quite a few people” were calling for the U.S. to invade those countries. Would that have been a good idea? Would it have accomplished much?

      But you knew that. 

      You can’t even make that taunt unless you already know why you shouldn’t, because you’d have to be awwwwwwwfully dumb not to be able to figure it out for yourself. What scares me about how often that comes up (on the floor of Congress, even) is that the people smart enough to be making it apparently think there are voters precisely that dumb.

      For what it’s worth, if I could solve all our fiscal issues myself, I would. But I’m okay with the fact that it’s going to take more people’s money than just my own. And honestly, I’m okay with the fact that some of them are going to begrudge every last dime, or every “extra” dime they might have to pay over our current historically low rates. I’d say I’m sorry that even the prospect of it is so distressing… but, you know, I’m not.

    • Or we could cut say 50% of the defense budget, but the military industrial complex wont let us do that either.  Most people I talk to dont want higher taxes out of the rich, they want the money that is spent, spent on the people not on an inflated war chest that is greater than the next 20 countries combined!!!

      • Ray Scheel says:

         Hmm, that could be accomplished by doing something like pulling most of our troops out of wars and closing bases in countries where we do not have a real need to be there beyond underwriting the security costs for various major corporations who have bribed their way into cushy contract with whomever we have installed or are propping up as the “leader” of that country? 

        Don’t we have a presidential primary race under way were a couple of the candidates the media has been trying not to cover have been proposing just that (with a significant level of support from our troops who are actually out there in teh fight)?

    • mr_mediocre says:

      What, you think people should make useless and self-harming gestures just to keep blog-commenting glibertarians from thinking they’re scoring cheap rhetorical points?

  12. atimoshenko says:

    Taxes should track wealth at least at a flat rate, and maybe even progressively. The government creates a system that protects what one owns and lets one enjoy it. Thus, the more one owns, the more one should pay the government.

  13. Filippo Salustri says:

    Many people seem to be missing the point presented by Hayes, maybe cuz the headline on this page is wrong (with respect to what Hayes actually says).  Hayes isn’t debunking that the top 10% pay 70% of the income tax, he’s debunking that doing such a thing is “unfair.”

    To CLamb in particular: I’m sorry but you’re wrong.  The “flat” in flat tax refers to to change in tax rate (percentage) over a range of incomes.  A 10% flat tax, say, means that everyone pays 10%.  This means rich people pay more tax, but they have more money anyways.  Someone who makes $30k/yr will pay $3k in tax and have $27k left.  A person who makes $1M/yr will pay $100k in tax and will have $900k left.

  14. Rindan says:

    When talking about if someone pays their fair share of taxes, you need to define fair.  It isn’t simple.  There are lots of “fair” ways to divvy up the tax burden.  To just name a few…

    1)  Everyone pays the same amount.
    2)  Everyone pays the same percentage of their wealth.  
    3)  Everyone pays the same percentage of their disposable wealth after necessities.
    4)  Everyone pays the same amount of “pain”.  (i.e. it hurts more to give up a dollar when you have 5 of them than when you have a thousand).

    Often times, conservatives are decrying taxes as not being fair because they believe that options 1 or 2 are what fair means.  Liberals decry taxes as not fair because they believe option 3 or 4 are what fair is. 

    Before arguing about if things are ‘fair’ or not, you need to first figure out where we are on that spectrum.  I am pretty sure people will disagree over that.  If you can even get that far, than you can try to argue about which direction to go, with option 1 being a flat tax, and option 4, if taken to its extreme, a steeply progressive tax.

    • Semantics and a good foundation for discussion are very important, why don’t they teach that in schools again?

      you are right on the money no two ideas of “fair” are the same, in fact fair just mean “I would agree to this”, or “I like this”

      Fair is a meme just like justice, an idea or concept that you can’t point to in the physical world.

    • Ray Scheel says:

       I have never seen serious consideration to option 1 in any circles. 

      Options 2 and 3 I have only seen floated by conservatives, and option 2 very rarely at that.  It has been many decades since any significant percentage of liberals have even acted like they might consider option 3, which is a flat rate after a minimum exemption per person / household.

      Option 4, a progressive tax rate, most resembles the current state of things.  We have both an exemption to cover necessities and a progressively more “painful” rate on earned income, with many paying no income tax at all. 

      The issue with our monetary policy being manipulated by the political establishment of both U.S. political parties to ensure that the top 1% maintains or increases the same percentage of the wealth distribution compared to the general population – even when their investments fail – is a separate problem that cannot be fixed by increasing income taxes.   They will just keep manipulating monetary policy and the futures markets to maintain their relative wealth compared to the rest of the U.S. population.  This is why things like proposing a return to a monetary standard with real backing and eliminating the federal reserve scares the political establishment the way it does.

  15. Walt Guyll says:

    So it’s absolutely true that the rich DO pay most of income taxes. Some people just move the argument from that uncomfortable fact.

    • fendwick says:

      No one is uncomfortable at all with that fact, Walt: have you not been reading this post?  

      We’re just wondering why the rich are representing the absolute fact that the rich pay less in taxes percentage-wise than anyone else as an example of how the rich themselves are the target of some societal unfairness.  All caught up, now?

    • what is most?  real numbers please!

  16. backyardfoundry says:

    The first time I came across this “-stan” meme was in The Black Swan (the book.) It was much more interesting than this. He states that data can be segregated as either belonging in Mediocristan on Extremistan. But I don’t want to ruin it. Just go read the book as you’ll learn much more than you will watching this Chris Hayes goofball.

  17. oldtaku says:

    He literally debunked until his head literally exploded! It was so debunkingly ironic.

  18. LordBlagger says:

    So what do the rich do with their money? Two things.

    1. They spend it. 
    2. They invest what is left over. 

    Do you want them to stop spending?

    Do you want them to stop investing? 

    My view is that the first is a bit of a waste. The second isn’t. 

    If you allow the government to effectively say, we’re going to take your money and spend it, you will end up with less investment. 

    Even if the government does ‘investment’  it does it badly. For example, in the UK they are building a new railway line. Debt costs at 3 million a day. (GBP). Maximum of 200,000 passengers a day. Ticket price with running costs? About 1/2 of what an unemployed person gets a week. So instead they are going to tax people who don’t use it – for ever – because they won’t pay the debt off – ever. 

    • lorq says:

      “If you allow the government to effectively say, we’re going to take your money and spend it, you will end up with less investment.”
      And since private investment, particularly in today’s global economy, sends capital straight overseas, I’d say taxing potential investment income for spending at home is a good thing.

      • LordBlagger says:

        And why is the money going overseas? Yes, It’s not economical invest because the returns aren’t high enough. 

        Why not put exchange controls in place? Why not just confiscate the assets?

        Take the UK. The government should take all of Branson’s assets. Sell them off. Now it has a billion. That funds the deficit – until Tuesday lunch time. Now it needs to go after another billionaire. Who do you suggest? That will last another two days. 

        So to fund the deficit, it needs to create a new billionaire every two days, and then take all of their money. 

        Do you think that you can find these people? 

        Do you think they will invest in the UK if this is the plan?

        What about the people with 100 million? 

        The people with a million? 

        The people with 10K?

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          And why is the money going overseas? Yes, It’s not economical invest because the returns aren’t high enough.

          Given that the wealthy are wealthier than they used to be and will be wealthier still in the near future, the phrase “returns aren’t high enough” is nothing but a malicious propaganda slogan used by the crocodile to try to get the wildebeest to walk right into his maw. And repeated by the wildebeests dense enough to belief that some day they will be crocodiles.

        • atimoshenko says:

          And why is the money going overseas?

          Because capital owners have ensured that there are international rules supporting the freedom of movement of capital but no international rules supporting the freedom of movement of labour.

          Highly concentrated wealth is not an affront to the government, it is an affront to economic efficiency. The argument is not “let’s dispossess a billionaire to finance the government”, the argument is that an economy of 1,000 millionaires would grow more than an economy of 1 billionaire and 999 paupers, and that in tough times everyone should shoulder some of the pain.

          Of course, if you think that the rich are already feeling more pain than the poor, then you would believe it to be in their rational self-interest to give all of their money and power away and join the ranks of aspiring McDonald’s fry cooks. Funny how we don’t see too many of them doing so…

  19. MadAir says:

    About the 4:00 mark:

    “There are two sides to the tax ledger, there’s how much money a group makes and how much they pay in taxes. When you only hear one side of the ledger, you’re probably not getting a very full picture. ”

    So why doesn’t Hayes present both sides of the picture? Why go to all the trouble of creating this mythical country with income distributions and tax rates that are not the same as those in the US, then implying that they are the same? Why not just give us the stats on both sides of the ledger? Could it be that they would refute his point?

    In the US:

    The top 1% make 20% of the money and pay 38% of the income taxes collected.
    The top 5% make 35% of the money and pay 59% of the taxes.
    The top 10% make 46% of the money and pay 70% of the taxes.
    The top 25% make 67% of the money and pay 86% of the taxes.
    The top 50% make 87% of the money and pay 97% of the taxes.
    The bottom 50% make 13% of the money and pay 3% of the taxes.

  20. Or everyone pays enough taxes to insure that everyone in the society has a minimum decent standard of living. That’s what I would call fair.

    • MadAir says:

      Good deal! I can get a minimum decent standard of living without having to work? Sign me up!

      • Did I say you didn’t have to work?

        • MadAir says:

          So you’re talking about raising the minimum wage. That’s fine as long as you’re not one of those whose labor has a lower marginal value than the minimum wage, like the 26% of teens who are currently unable to find work (or even worse, the 53% of black teens).

          • Oh, you mean there a bunch of jobs out there going untaken because teenagers are such lousy workers that employers won’t even hire them at minimum wage. Is that it?

          • Ray Scheel says:

            Aye.  It was the minimum wage that ended the full-service gas station and carry-out grocery as a place for teens with no employment  history or practical skills to earn a little spending money and gain an appreciation for working.   It also made migrant labor unaffordable for citizens that would have to be paid on the books.  We don’t need to raise the minimum wage, in fact, we need to lower it or exempt several segments where the labor has a lower marginal value than the existing wage.

      • Sure we will make you a banker and pay you 100k a year because your daddy was a banker. 

  21. ben_4149 says:

    Here’s an 2010 Yahoo Finance article fragment that has the actual number stats:

    ….About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That’s according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization. Most people still are required to file returns by the April 15 deadline. The penalty for skipping it is limited to the amount of taxes owed, but it’s still almost always better to file: That’s the only way to get a refund of all the income taxes withheld by employers. In recent years, credits for low- and middle-income families have grown so much that a family of four making as much as $50,000 will owe no federal income tax for 2009, as long as there are two children younger than 17, according to a separate analysis by the consulting firm Deloitte Tax. Tax cuts enacted in the past decade have been generous to wealthy taxpayers, too, making them a target for President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress.
    Less noticed were tax cuts for low- and middle-income families, which were expanded when Obama signed the massive economic recovery package last year. The result is a tax system that exempts almost half the country from paying for programs that benefit everyone, including national defense, public safety, infrastructure and education.
    It is a system in which the top 10 percent of earners — households making an average of $366,400 in 2006 — paid about 73 percent of the income taxes collected by the federal government.
    The bottom 40 percent, on average, make a profit from the federal income tax, meaning they get more money in tax credits than they would otherwise owe in taxes. For those people, the government sends them a payment…..

  22. Teller says:

    I’ve paid some steep income taxes in my time. Never minded it. Got lucky, felt I owed it. Still do. What I dislike are the msnbc-type folks, who pull down serious money, figuratively pulling into a liquor store parking lot in Watts all high-fivin’ saying “The rich are screwing you” then going back to Brentwood. I despise that kind of duplicitous pandering. I also despise anyone who thinks those who need assistance are nothing but a bunch of lazy welfare chiselers. Well, I guess that covers everyone.
    Brentwood, though, is awfully nice.

  23. MadAir says:

    Chait’s main point, “there are other taxes besides income tax” is a valid one, but income tax is what we were talking about, and income taxes are where the most of the proposed changes would occur. Chait’s graph still shows that when all forms of taxation are considered, the top 20% pay a slightly bigger chunk than their share of the income, and the bottom 60% somewhat less.

    Where Chait goes wrong is where is claims that anyone is calling half of all workers freeloaders, or that anyone is using income vs taxes paid stats to justify lower tax rates on the rich. De Rugy’s article and my comments were both made just to supply some missing data that was essential to the discussion.

    • grimc says:

      Come on. The clear implication is that poor people are getting a free ride on the backs of the oppressed rich. Just google “lucky duckies wsj”. And this is all about creating and preserving a situation where the wealthy pay very little in taxes. Everything about ‘rich people invest and create jobs’ is utter bullshit.

      Trickle down economics is FAIL.

  24. KWillets says:

    He’s convinced me — his salary should be reduced.

  25. The rich pay very little in taxes because their primary source of “income” is in the form of capital gains rather than income, and capital gains usually only come into play when you sell an asset. Rich people rarely liquidate all of their assets (except upon death, which does carry a stiff penalty if you don’t have a good accountant).

    When you talk about “income earners,” you are discussing people who are still attempting to become rich. Raising taxes on income earners simply makes it harder to accumulate real wealth, while protecting the truly rich people’s share of total wealth.

  26. Mister44 says:

    I just want a re-write of the tax code that closes the millions of loopholes. I would like to see more corporate tax (not small biz). I dunno if ~30% is fair for the top 10% or so – but it’s close.

  27. One way the rich do pay some income taxes is through corporate taxes IF they choose to invest that way. For example, last year Warren Buffet paid over a billion dollars in income taxes indirectly through his ownership in Berkshire Hathaway.

    But that’s small potatoes. If you own a few thousand acres of land in, say, Africa and discover that a billion dollars of resources are buried under it, nobody knows you’re a billionaire until you sell the land or the resources. And if you do sell the land, obviously you’ll sell it dirt cheap on the books and trade a billion dollars of favors in the back room. Over 80% of the people own no land at all.

  28. lostinutah says:

    The top 10% pay 70% of the income taxes while controlling 90% of the wealth.  Unfair, yes.

    • Crispian says:

      lostinutah,

      That is another dishonesty. To “control” wealth is not the same as income and the two should not be confused in this debate.  It means holding things of value, whether a corporation, stocks & bonds, savings account, etc.

      So either you’re calling for the government to confiscate wealth (leftover after already being taxed or not yet taxed because no income has been yet earned) or increasing income taxes on the wealthy under the assumption that they’ll save or invest too much of it so as to become richer. So if Oprah takes a salary of $80,000/year, you would tax her on her entire $2-3 billion control of Harpo Productions. Fortunately for you, she  takes a much higher salary and of course her company pays its own taxes…but still, she continues to control much more wealth than she has income. Your solution for “fairness” is to run the American economy into the ground.

      • atimoshenko says:

        Your solution for “fairness” is to run the American economy into the ground.

        How does massive concentration of wealth keep the economy going?

  29. Crispian says:

    As many on both sides of this issue pointed out…Hayes did not debunk the stat.

    He found another way to complain about why people maybe should think it’s not fair. But a more complete analysis of what he’s saying reveals him to be unpersuasive.

    As toasterslie says: “the point is if somebody earns 70% of the income they SHOULD pay 70% of
    the taxes.  It would have helped if Hayes actually pulled out the IRS
    gross receipts statistics which show what percentage of GDP the top 10%
    take home.”

    MadAir helpfully provides those numbers and show that Hayes is simply confused or dishonest.

    And did he go to the Maddow School of Communication or what? So many eerie similarities between them.

  30. dcamsam says:

    Not all wealth is income.  Not all taxes are federal.

    The wealthiest 20% of America “earns” 85% of its wealth, largely by devising creative ways of depriving the remaining 80% of its wages.  Yet apparently this is not enough for the right-wing.  I have to wonder, what percentage America’s wealth does the wealthiest 20% deserve?  90%?  95%?  Maybe it should be 100% and the remaining 80% of us should be slaves to them.  Would that be preferable?

    • Mister44 says:

      LOL – man…

      First off the bulk of their wealth isn’t from depriving workers of wages.

      Second re: “Yet apparently this is not enough for the right-wing.”

      If you think the Democrats are any less “rich friendly”, you’re delusional. They get kick backs and corporate donations just like everyone else. Both R and D in congress have about the same number of millionaires withing their ranks. I know they like to seem like they care because are “pro gov assistance”, but if that were really the case they would constantly be pushing for a higher minimum wage and more benefits for the poor.

      • Jon Sowden says:

        Mister44: “First off the bulk of their wealth isn’t from depriving workers of wages.” 
        Crispian: “[wealth is] not a pre-existing pie from which the wealthy grab all the slices.”

        This graph strongly suggests you’re both wrong.
        http://assets.motherjones.com/politics/2011/inequality-p25_averagehouseholdincom.png

        • MadAir says:

          Notice that the graph is of household income. Households in ’79 had a higher percentage of intact marriages. All of the decline in income for the bottom 40% can be accounted for by fewer adult wage earners per household.

        • Mister44 says:

          LOL. Man… you take two graphs with out any context and sh0ws nothing other than the gap between the top 1% and everyone else.

          First with my statement, payroll is only one of a number of expenses. If you’re a company making billions, even if you doubled everyone’s salary, you’re still going to be making billions. Why? Because the wealth comes from selling goods and/or providing services, or making investments – not from nickle and dime-ing employees.

          Second, I believe Crispian’s point was that the world just doesn’t have wealth sitting around for the taking (other than natural resources), it requires work and investments of time and money to create something that others want to buy.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        First off the bulk of their wealth isn’t from depriving workers of wages.

        Google any variation of  ‘CEO salaries increased’ and you’ll see that average CEO compensation went up 27% in 2010 while everybody else’s compensation stayed the same and everything got much more expensive.  Unless you think that the CEOs have leprechauns making gold in the basement, it came from depriving the workers of wages.

        • Mister44 says:

          My point was, even if you paid your employees NOTHING – the amount of money from the company’s sales of goods and services is where a majority of the wealth comes from paying your employees less.

      • Navin_Johnson says:

        He didn’t say anything about Democrats, unless you’re making the ridiculous assumption that those millionaire, corporate shill Democrats are “left wing” or even mildly progressive.

        • Mister44 says:

          You are right, he didn’t say anything about Democrats. He did say, “Yet apparently this is not enough for the right-wing.”

          So I logically assumed if he meant both sides of the aisle then he would have said so, instead of just of just one.

      • Ray Scheel says:

        A higher minimum wage is provably bad for the poor by eliminating marginal value jobs.  For example, the minimum wage is what eliminated full-service gas station attendants.   It is better to be underemployed and needing assistance to cover the gap while building an employment track record than to not be employed at all. 

        Much the same can be said for direct entitlement benefits for the poor, especially with the terrible efficiency the government has at delivering those services.   If the benefits are such that they are not struggling, the generational recipients do not have an incentive to find their own way.

    • Crispian says:

      What you wrote was actually incoherent.

      But I will make this point: wealth doesn’t just happen. It’s not a pre-existing pie from which the wealthy grab all the slices.

      • atimoshenko says:

        But I will make this point: wealth doesn’t just happen. It’s not a pre-existing pie from which the wealthy grab all the slices.

        Of course. This is why kids born to parents in the bottom income quintile have 40% chance of staying in the bottom quintile and 1% chance of reaching the top 5%, while kids born to parents in the top quintile have 40% chance of staying in the top quintile and 1% chance of falling to the bottom quintile.

        Wealth does not just happen. Wealth needs wealth to happen. It’s pretty self evident. If there are two equally talented, intelligent, and hard-working people, but one of them inherits a mansion and a factory, while the other inherits nothing, it will be the latter who seemingly generates a lot more value in return for the same effort spent.

        Centralising economic power in the hands of a few families and corporations today makes about as much sense, therefore, as centralising political power in the hands of a few families at the time of the French Revolution.

  31. Jon Sowden says:

    So … no other demographic changes in the last 32 years, then? There’s not more women in the workforce? There aren’t more people working more jobs and/or longer hours?

    Nope, no changes at all, except the one that coincidentally props up your worldview.

    • MadAir says:

      That’s what I just said. An increase in the divorce rate created households with a woman as the primary wage earner. These households disproportionately made up the bottom 40%. When you compare median income per capita with median income per household, you see that all of the decline in income in the lowest 40% can be accounted for by the increase in the number of households.

  32. brothermouzone says:

    The right wing, the left….don’t you all realize the folly in this? No political party is going to accomplish what we really need, mostly because politicians are usually more concerned with their image than actually getting things done. Democrats and Republicans each have their theory on how to run this country, and so they have split us in two.  Now, instead of actually fixing our problems, we fight over every petty detail. Compromise. We need to be willing to compromise. If we want to solve the problem, we need to do away with political parties. Let voters decide on a candidate not based on whether they are democrat or republican, but solely on what they stand for, what they mean to do in office. After that, the country will be far more unified and things will actually get done. Sure, there are holes. There are always holes, nothing is perfect, but it has to be better than what we are doing now.

  33. Jon Sowden says:

    MadAir “Notice that the graph is of household income. Households in ’79 had a higher percentage of intact marriages. All of the decline in income for the bottom 40% can be accounted for by fewer adult wage earners per household.”

    Just for giggles, I decided to check out the US Census Bureau stats on family types for 1979 and 2010.

    1979
    Family: 74.4% of all households
    Married Couple Family: 61.6% of all households
    One Parent Family: 7.3% of all households

    2010
    Family: 67.1% of all households
    Married Couple Family: 49.7% of all households
    One Parent Family: 17.4% of all households

    Assuming:
    * 1979 Married Couple Household income of $100
    * 1979 One Parent Household income of $50
    * 2010 Married Couple Household income of $100
    * 2010 One Parent Household income of $50
    * the proportion of Married Couple Households in which both parents worked stayed the same
    * no inflation, etc

    Then:
    in 1979 Family Household (i.e., avg of married and solo) income =$65.25
    in 2010 Family Household (i.e., avg of married and solo) income = $58.40

    Which is a drop in average Family Household income of 10.5% [ (65.25 - 58.40) / 65.25]

    The decline in relative income for the bottom 40% has been a damn sight more than 10%.

    Base Data available here:
    http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam/p20-historical/reports.html
    http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam/cps2010.html

  34. LordBlagger says:

    Well, in Europe there is freedom of movement of capital and labour. EU citizens can work anywhere in the EU. 

    The problem with you argument is that you haven’t analysed the actual cause of the current mess. 

    If you think its banks, you’ll never mention the people who didn’t pay back their borrowings. Not that I believe either of those two groups are the cause of the current issues.

    The cause of the current issues is too much government debt, and because the debts are so large they can’t support spending at their current levels. 

    Now that does hit people. The spending needs to stop. Taxes won’t fall because the spending has stopped either. They still have the debts, and the vast majority of which are fraudulantly hidden off government’s accounts. Even banks couldn’t do what governments do. 

    If we take the UK. The government ‘earns’ less than 600 bn a year. It’s total debts, including the off the books debt, is around the 7000 bn mark. The cost of the bank bailouts in comparison, compounded by not doing what the US did (let Lehmans go under), is 70 bn. This comes from two sources. 1. share trading in banks. 2. Selling insurance after the event being insured has occurred.

    Even that 7000 bn figure doesn’t include the really big figure here. There is another 12,000 bn (all present values) in the form of promises to bail out people with no retirement money. Not even accrued rights to a state pension. Given 50% of the people in the UK have less than 5,000 in savings, it’s coming. 

    So its in reality the middle class and poor who will get hit. The rich are just preventing the government from stealing the lot. 

    What is needed is good spending. Bad spending is spending on a cinema ticket. Good spending is spending on a machine tool that generates a profit. 

    Governments are just doing the first, not the second. 

    So rather than sit and ask, why are government so desperate for money, you’ve been caught up in class warfare. 

    So the thing to do is fight back. Insure yourself. Have a go back at government. For example, in the UK we have Lords. Unelected politicians ruling over us. Some because their parents had the job. Most because they Brown nosed a prime minister. Quite a lot bought their peerages because they donated money to political parties. 300 of them have committed fraud. They have claimed money for being a peer and attending the house of lords. However, they haven’t used their passes to get into one of the most sensitive and secure buildings in the UK. Outright criminality. They have also slapped on the wrist peers who offered to change legislation for money. No criminal prosecutions there. Now I’ve managed to get one of them jailed. I’m out for a lot more. 

    Even a handful of people can now bring down governments and drive out the corrupt and the fraudulent. 

    • atimoshenko says:

      The cause of the current issues is too much government debt, and because the debts are so large they can’t support spending at their current levels.

      Not really. If that were the case, then one would expect Azerbaijan (with sovereign debt at 4% GDP) to be doing much better than Japan (198% GDP), or Nigeria (with tax receipts 6% of GDP) to be doing much better than Denmark (49% GDP). Government debt may not be entirely irrelevant, but it is not an issue until something else goes wrong – it is demonstrably not the ultimate “actual cause”.

      On a side note, it is not a case of Big Government vs. Big Business – both are abusive, corrupt, and inefficient. This is because the problem is neither with “government”, nor with “business”, but with “big”. “Big” means high amounts of power (economic, political, whatever) centralised in the hands of a few at the expense of the many. Centralised systems (especially complex centralised systems) never work – centralisation significantly amplifies both incompetence and greed. As a result, anything whose net effect is to reduce entrenched centralisation is a positive thing in my book.

  35. Guest says:

    Make a society ‘equal’ and you have creativity and productivity going to zilch

    I’m sorry, but have you SEEN what the cubans have done with 60 year old cars? Please, please stop worshipping ayn rand. She was an ideologue and a hypocrite. Shea had an amazing perspective, amoral, but amazing. Sort of like the view after an air raid. Holy shit, look what we can do. 

  36. I read the first half of the comments.  It’s dismaying to see the lack of understanding when it comes to statistics.

    Here’s one: 49% of Americans don’t pay tax.  Lazy, feckless idlers?  No, they’ve been marginalised and ghettoised by the system.  

    Society; if half your population are on welfare, you’re probably doing it wrong.

  37. Jim213 says:

    People that don’t pay taxes in should not be getting a $5000 tax rebate every year !!!!!!!!!

  38. Michael Butler says:

    It’s disappointing that both sides habitually ignore a critical number in this particular discussion:  the % of total earnings actually earned by this top 10% .  That number is around 46% of the total earnings being taxed.  So the top 10% make about 46% of all income and pay about 70% of federal income taxes.  

    Conservative politicians might want to leave out the % of total earnings number because the 10% vs 70% soundbite sounds more unbalanced than 46% vs 70%.  Liberals might want to ignore this number so they can continue to imagine that the top 10% earn more than 70% of total income.  Or maybe the spokespeople on both sides – Chris Hayes included – are just ill-informed and incurious as to the fuller picture.But the 46% vs 70% imbalance should not surprise anyone who understands that we have a progressive income tax system- one that taxes people with higher incomes at a higher percentage than people with lower incomes.http://reason.com/archives/2011/04/22/the-truth-about-taxes-and-redi

  39. girdyerloins says:

    How about this for a slightly different point of view? 
    The wealthy have benefitted, in the first instance, from an nation which, over the years, has been sustained and advanced thanks in no small part, to all who serve in its military. These wealthy can never hope to match the sacrifices made by many of those veterans who often are placed in a position of having their service rendered irrelevant by a failure of the system to provide health care, appropriate financial recompense or, in some cases, mere recognition of service.
     That there is, for example,  a growing cadre of women who have served their country unstintingly in the military who have become homeless (some with children) should, by itself and without consideration of all other misfortunes befalling male veterans, be a source of shame to all with enough money such  that they would never need to tangle with the thought of being late on any living expense for the rest of their lives.
    Does anyone reading this seriously need a more blatant and egregious example of exploitation? Nevermind that serving in the military is considered a civic “duty” or a “patriotic” thing to do. Hell, women in China were socialized as recently as a hundred years ago to have their feet bound, their lives completely controlled by in-laws and essentially being relegated to the status equivalent of a thinking pack-animal and brood mare……Anyone can be socialized to do or believe any thing. 
    Is our system of exploitation any less onerous, because we have been socialized to look the other way when confronted with threats to the subsidizing of a lavish way of life for an unproductive, useless and parasitic group of psychopaths?
    No one needs a degree in brain surgery or rocket science to know when they are left holding the dirty end of the stick. Semantics can indeed cover it up for those who are not accustomed to using their heads for little more than a place to put their hats.

  40. Hayes debunked the use of Amount paid in taxes rather than Rate (fair share).  Sadly, the right wingers continue to beat their chests about amounts rather than rates.  Of course the millionaire pays a tax Amount greater than the secretary.  What is not fair is if he pays at a lower Rate. His fair share.   Hayes decisively debunked this deception of using Amount rather than Rate.

    Now lets get to the next deception.  AP says most millionaires pay 29.1%.  So?  Does that deny what the President was saying- that some pay a lot less than that?  Because some are paying less- THAT is what the President was saying was unfair, and that is what the GOP should not be defending.

    Fox News would have people believe that what Obama said was that people earning over 1 million are not paying their fair share.    Look at what the President actually said.  It is quite different.

    He said that it is indefensible that someone making over 50 million can pay a lower rate in taxes than his secretary.  That is not fair.  Go ahead. Look for the clip were he actually said something different. Now ask yourself why Fox repeats over and over and over the suggestion that he said something he didn’t.

    Is anyone saying that either is fair?  

    Lastly- there are some, such as libertarians at Reason.com who claim that a graduated tax is unfair to the rich. Others would claim that wealth has a magnifying affect- “It takes money to make money”, and that a graduated tax corrects for this uneven playing field. Libertarians just shrug their shoulders about the growing income inequality in the US, flattering the wealthy with the idea that they are getting more because they are more clever. Really? Does that really explain why the top 20% of the population controls over 80% of the wealth? (source: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2011/09/a-broader-view-of-americas-wea.html)

  41. flyoverland says:

    This debunked nothing, really. When he called David Brooks a conservative in the first sentence, it went downhill from there. 

  42. Craig Miller says:

    That was simply the stupidest thing I’ve heard all week.  I’m not sure what he was trying to prove with that fictitious country, but he blew right past me into the wastebasket.  Please try again – I am actually trying to listen.

  43. 666beast1 says:

    It’s pretty clear that capitalism is now joining communism as a titanic failure.  If the best it can offer is a kind of marginalized existence where the only purpose is to serve, consume and die it will end up on the trash heap of history.

  44. Ryan Lenethen says:

    Its an “Income Tax” not a “Person Tax”.

    So if 10% of the population makes 90% of the “income” they should be prepared to pay 90% of the “income tax”, not 70%.

    Simple.

    In fact some people might argue that because they are so well off that they should pay MORE than their fair share, or greater than 90%, say 95% or 98%. Chew on that a bit before complaining about the 70%.

  45. 666beast1 says:

    Probably not.  What do you call a system that is failing  25% of the people in providing jobs and  healthcare and produces the largest income equality in the western world:  a great success?

  46. Walt Guyll says:

    David Friedman is having a conversation with David Brin over on Google+ regarding rolling back the income tax rates back to what it was in the Nineties.
    Friedman points out that the the lowest quintile then paid twice the rate they do now and the rich paid roughly the same.

    Recounted at http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      David Friedman may not be a trained economist, but he’s a superb swordsman.

      I figured most of the posts in this thread are about as topical as mine, so what the hell.   He really is good, especially for a short guy.

  47. LordBlagger says:

    You’re starting to see the product of political decisions. Namely governments have vast off balance sheet debts, all hidden with Enron style accounting tricks. 

    That’s the factual part. 

    The effect, you can see with Greece. 

    More taxes, more taxes, doesn’t work. Particularly when more tax is targeted at people who produce jobs. That’s why the blanket, tax the rich, is bonkers. 

    Taxes need to be lowered, particularly on anything that generates wealth. 

    Spending on things that generate more debt, likewise, needs to be stopped. 

    Governments are doing the opposite. 

  48. Mark Nance says:

    I know I’m late to the conversation… I agree that Chris does not “debunk” anything, but rather shows how a “flat tax”, which is not in effect currently (so why did he use that in his example??) is actually quite equitable.

    Reading through all the comments I wonder why many seem to think that rich people are inherently evil? I suppose being rich is a bad thing… unless you happen to be rich.

    Lastly, something that noone has brought up… If it is fair that the rich, who earn more money, should, therefore, pay a higher percentage of taxes, and thereby contribute more to the overall GDP of the country… then would it not also be fair in our representative democracy for those people to have more control over how that money is used? In business it’s called having a controlling stake. So if the top 10% are funding 50% of the GDP then they should get an additional vote for every person below the 10% to the 1 vote that everyone else gets. In other words, in Chris Hayes’ example, the one rich guy would get 10 votes while the other 9 got 1 vote.

  49. Guest says:

    Further, inequality in material wealth is somewhat inevitable, but vast inequality is merely evidence of exceptionalism by the leadership – which is quite different from genius.

    I am sure it feels like you’re a genius when you’re at the top of this society, but all it means to win in America today is that you’re the one best adjusted to a sick society. Not something to brag about.

  50. Navin_Johnson says:

    Weird that the U.S. has fallen behind more egalitarian, progressively taxed countries in start-ups, health, wealth and nearly every other measure of success.  

Leave a Reply